Charities Newsletter – December 2020


18th December 2020

We hope this latest e-bulletin finds you safe and well during this holiday season.

This is our final edition of our newsletter for 2020, a year that nobody will forget in a hurry. While the start of the vaccination programme in the UK signals the beginning of the end of the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to dominate the headlines, and there have been many repercussions for charities. This newsletter brings you the latest of these updates for the Charities sector.

However you celebrate this holiday season, we send you our warmest wishes, and a Happy New Year, and look forward to working with you in 2021.

Government announces exceptions for charities to regulations on local restriction tiers in England

On 30 November 2020, the UK government made the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1374) and published an explanatory memorandum. This came into force on 2 December 2020, and consistent with previous restrictions, the Regulations include exceptions from limits across the first three tiers for gatherings that are reasonably necessary for work or providing voluntary or charitable services.

The Regulations also provide an exception from the business and premises closure rules across all three tiers where they are used for essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, and allow “permitted organised gatherings” to take place across the first three tiers in venues (other than private dwellings) operated by charities and, where organised by charities, in public outdoor places. The organiser must take the “required precautions” in relation to any such gatherings, including wearing face masks in indoor settings, social distancing, and carrying out a risk assessment. Limits on numbers of attendees also apply, as set out in government guidance. It should also be noted that in the first three tiers charities are encouraged to ask volunteers to volunteer from home if they can.

In light of these Regulations, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has updated its guidance for charities around the recruitment and management of volunteers under local restrictions in England that came into force in early December. The helpful guidance can be found here.

New Charity Governance Code published – providing clearer guidance on equality, diversity and inclusion

Following a consultation on refreshing the Charity Governance Code earlier this year, the latest version of the Code has been published, which aims to provide clearer guidance on equality, diversity and inclusion. The new Code can be found here.

The main changes to the Code are that the Diversity Principle has been replaced with a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Principle. This recommends that charity trustee boards consider why EDI is important for their charity and set context-specific and realistic EDI targets, and monitor performance against those targets, and publish performance information and learning. It also emphasises the need for charity trustees from diverse backgrounds, and for the board to address any biases in charity trustee recruitment. The Integrity Principle has also been updated to emphasise the importance of a charity’s values, ethics and culture.

UK Government to give the Charity Commission an extra £1m next year, as announced in the Spending Review

Documents published by the Government following the Spending Review at the end of November show that the Charity Commission’s funding from the UK Government is set to rise from £27.3m in the current financial year to £28.3m in the year ending March 2022. It will also receive an additional £2.2m for capital spending on items such as buildings and equipment.

Government announces £16.5 million youth COVID-19 support fund

The Youth Covid-19 Support Fund, which will be open to grassroots youth clubs, uniformed youth groups, and national youth and umbrella organisations, will help to mitigate the impact of lost income during the winter period due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ensure services providing vital support can remain open. The funding will be allocated from the Government’s unprecedented £750 million package of support which is benefiting tens of thousands of frontline charities, so they can continue their vital work. Information on the Fund can be found here, and further details on the Youth COVID-19 Support Fund, including eligibility and how to apply, is expected to be announced in due course.

New Financial Management Guidance for Multi-Academy Trusts

The Education Skills & Funding Agency has recently provided financial management guidance for Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). This expands on the requirements set out in the Academies Financial Handbook 2020 which contains the main financial management and control requirements for MATs. Read our blog post here for more information.

Charities must be more transparent about pension deficits, says Charity Commission

Some charities are not including required details about pension deficits in their annual accounts, the Charity Commission has warned. In an article about the work it has done looking at pension deficits, the Commission said it would be monitoring progress at a small number of charities, after a spot check of how organisations reported deficits in their defined benefit pension schemes. According to the article, 58% of charities from a random sample did not explain, in the trustees’ annual report, the impact of the pension deficit on their financial position. Only 26% of charities included the pension deficit as a risk in the report and only 28% clearly explained how they were handling their pension deficit.

 

Our Charities team publish e-bulletins to keep you up-to-date with breaking news and topical issues affecting the sector.

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